Ben Nelson has proven himself an embarrassment to the decent people of the state of Nebraska. They remain unbought and unamused by the special Medicaid payments he secured for Nebraska that instantly came to be known as the Cornhusker Kickback.
All things considered, the people of Nebraska let it be known that they preferred not to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage such as Obamacare. If the Obamacare legislation makes it to Obama, it is supposed to be minus the Cornhusker Kickback.
Now Rowan Scarborough reports that the Obama administration has delivered another budget plum to Nelson and the state of Nebraska, adding more than a half-billion dollars for a new veterans hospital in Omaha. Scarborough notes that the move reverses a decision by Mr. Obama’s own Veterans Administration of a year ago, which called for repairing an existing hospital. Nelson’s spokesman rejects the idea the new hospital was awarded in exchange for the senator’s health care vote.
And maybe that’s so. But there is no doubt that other kickbacks have been inserted into the reconciliation package that is before the House. For Tennessee congressional leaders have stuffed an extra $100 million for Tennessee hospitals serving a high volume of Medicaid patients into the package. This was apparently to secure the vote of Rep. Bart Gordon; see Tom Bevan’s post.
Although the package nationalizes the student loan system, one bank — the state-owned Bank of North Dakota — would be allowed to continue making student loans. Such a deal for North Dakota’s Democratic congressional delegation facing massive opposition to Obamacare back home.
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan has already announced his retirement rather than try to defend Obamacare to his constituents. Kent Conrad — North Dakota’s other Democratic senator — is employing the full Nelson, declining the bribe. Referring to “an overly heated partisan environment,” he asked the House to remove the buyoff from the legislation.
We await word from Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the state’s lone member of the House. Before the package was announced, Pomeroy was an enthusiastic advocate of the buyoff. “We want what’s taking place in North Dakota protected,” Pomeroy said. It is not clear whether Pomeroy shares Conrad’s second thoughts
And Congress will now expressly fund racial discrimination in higher education:
The new package also promises new aid for colleges serving minority students, using money the government is supposed to save by no longer paying banks to make student loans. Included are annual payments of $100 million for schools with large numbers of Hispanic students, the same amount for colleges with many black students, and millions more for schools with large numbers of native Americans and other minorities.
Newspapers running stories on these deals such as the Washington Post’s “Cornhusker Kickback gets the boot in health bill” really ought to provide nausea warnings and motion sickness bags.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin provides an updated roundup in “The Demcare bribe list, Pt. III.”